Winter in Africa: The Harmattan - Mission Tradition

I wanted to send my greetings now as we enter a new liturgical year. Many things have happened during this past November, or as I like to call it, un-December.

It has been very hot and humid during this month of November. I may be the only one in Nigeria looking forward to the Harmattan, which to many of the locals, is very cold but to me, is worth it.

Harmattan is a dry and dusty northeasterly trade wind in Africa which blows from the Sahara Desert over the West African subcontinent into the Gulf of Guinea – close to our location. The season is from the end of November to the middle of March. The air becomes so haze thick with dust that the sun is nothing but a deep red disk in the sky. Everything is covered in it. The world is a study in the shades of earth red.

We have accomplished much work lately, but there is always more to be done. We are close to completing a large fish pond, which will function as a pool until the fish come. We are very excited for this new project. It will help to feed a lot of parishioners as well as the boys in our school. 

The holes for the pillars of the church have been dug. After breaking through 6-8 inches of concrete and digging through 8 feet of packed dirt – whew!  The forms for the pillars have been made, as well as the rebar – reinforcing steel.  They will be filled soon.  The stairs for the choir loft and then the choir loft will be the next step.  The pillars and choir loft should be done by Christmas.  Please pray for that, as this is Africa and we never know what could happen.

There are about 20 people in Nne Enyemaka Parish (Our Lady of Perpetual Help) doing the 33 day total consecration to Our Lady according to St. Louis de Montfort. It will finish December 8th.

All day long, the school children make their way to the water we provide them. Rumor has spread through the area that the “white fathers” are giving out water for free. I make an effort to ensure the children know their basic catechism prayers while they drink. It is a little surprising how many are not Catholic. We find that many are Pentecostal.

For December 12th, some missionary sisters from Mexico will come and visit us. We will have a nice Mexican food meal. We were able to get tortillas from the store in the next city. Add a little rice, a few beans, some cheese, and who knows what could happen. A perfect feast for Our Lady of Guadalupe in Nigeria.

May God grant you His grace to grow in holiness as we look forward to Our Divine Eucharistic King’s entrance into the world at Christmas. Pray for us.